Saturday, October 3, 2015

What's for Dinner: Stewed Tomatoes and Eggs

Whenever I hear "stewed" I think about Southern cooking. I'm not sure why, since stewing didn't originate in the South, but I guess I suspect that all the blue-haired women I know who attend little country churches have stewed tomatoes in their pantry that they canned from their garden.

I hated tomatoes as a child. It's strange what you remember. When I was six I had a Cabbage Patch doll and a baby book that went along with it. I recorded on her "likes and dislikes" page that she didn't like tomatoes. Then I considered that I just marked out all the things I didn't like and reconsidered that maybe I should make her a separate entity. So I decided she liked tomatoes after all.

Never underestimate a child's cognitive skills. They are thinking so much that would amaze and astound you.

Tonight's meal was the best because the leftovers make an easy breakfast.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • 1 orange bell pepper, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes
  • 8 large eggs
  • Chopped cilantro, for serving
  • 4 slices toasted bread


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook, covered, for 4 minutes. Add the peppers, season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the skillet along with their juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the mixture has slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Make 8 small wells in the sauce and carefully crack an egg into each one. Cover and gently simmer for 6 minutes. Uncover and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 7 minutes for slightly runny yolks. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired, and serve with toast.

 I turned it into a bruschetta (pronounced "bru-sketta")  with olive oil, cilantro, and garlic garnish. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Harvest Time

"They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest." --Isaiah 9:3

The gospel brings joy with it. Those who would have joy, must expect to go through hard work.

Do you ever think about the reasons why we aren't where we want to be in life--why we aren't getting what we want? We've gone through 3 quarters of the year--have you met the goals you set at the beginning of the year?  

Did you want to be thinner? More successful? Were you prepared to find true love? 

Did you fail? Do you think you're alone? You're not.

Often we become discouraged from the goal because we have neglected to realize the connection between toiling and joy.  It is easier to eat a doughnut than prepare a healthy breakfast. Working extra hours is tiring. And at the end of the day, you feel too fat and tired to go out and find Price Charming...or Prince Good-Enough.

Preparation demands focus and time. Distractions are immediate and familiar. A portion of the hardship that arrives with preparedness is uncertain expectations: we know there is peace and joy and comfort in a calling or even something as simple as a completed task but at times, we're uncertain of the results. The terms of the journey may be unclear and the goal itself may be ambiguous.

 You've worked so hard, often without recognition or an expression of gratitude. The odds are against you, yet you've been faithful and kept going. You don't know why your efforts aren't working. You're weary of the labor, the drudgery. You're guilty and ashamed of failure and loss.

 "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."  --1 Corinthians 10:10-11

Today I drove a friend to a doctor's appointment out of town. On the way back home, she recalled working at nursing homes in the city. There are so many patients who don't have family to come visit. They can't speak or walk or understand what's going on around them. Yeah, it's depressing and sad.

There is joy in the toil. Often the hardest part of the toil is the waiting, the changing, and the hurting. 

But God does the work. 

So many Scriptures about joy are related to fruit and harvest. As you keep working towards your goals this last quarter be mindful that the harvest is a community effort, but so is growing the fruit.

We are a society of individualism. Whether your community is a church, a club, or another source, regroup this last quarter and find joy in the harvest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What's For Dinner: Corn and Clam Chowder

September is here! And I'm having clam chowder for dinner while listening to Ween's 1997 album, The Mollusks (it just fits). You have to have a certain kind of taste for Ween because they are no other and you'll also require an appetite for seafood; it's the kind of dish that solicits a strong reaction from consumers. People are either devoted to their aquatic affinities or they make retching noises and run away screaming.

I have a passion for seafood which includes all varieties of the afore mentioned album--especially raw oysters. And I love anchovies on my pizza. 


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 slice bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 can chopped clams in clam juice
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 1 lb. medium red bliss potatoes
  • 6 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • cooked crumbled bacon
  • Chopped parsley


  1. Place the oil and bacon in a Dutch oven or large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Drain the canned clam juice into the pan (reserve the clams), add the bottled clam juice and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the milk, then add the potatoes and thyme and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the corn and clams and cook until the potatoes are just tender and the corn and clams are heated through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Discard the thyme and serve the soup with crumbled bacon and parsley, if desired.

As you know, I'm a fan of initiating variations on the dishes I make, so I have a few suggestions for a creamier base: use cream (shocking revelation). I love oysters--I loathe oyster stew. The first time I had it, I swore the cook made a mistake. Hot milk soup? I'm retching and running away.

Half and half is a solid foundation for a bisque or in this case a chowder. Bacon and parsley become your garnish but really, you could use anything from homemade croutons (which is suggested) to olive oil, chives, or roasted walnuts.

So I was thinking...

If you wanted to get really fancy with this, you could make a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit bowl to serve this in. 

Or if not so much, maybe a seafood-themed tureen. I'm obsessed with dishes. Especially crustacean-centered pieces, which is weird since I'm not a fan of the beach.

Giuseppe Dovis makes an affordable blue crab collection as does Emmerson Creek out of Bedford, Virginia. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What is Piccata?


Piccata is a dish in which the meat (typically veal or chicken) that is butterflied, tenderized, battered and incorporated into a pasta dish.

Typically shallots, capers, garlic, and lemon--and of course olive oil and butter--will also be used in the dish.

I used Ronzoni gluten-free spaghetti. Click here to get a coupon for $1 off. My preference for gluten-free pasta is rice based. Corn tends to overpower a dish.

I would recommend adding more ingredients to this dish. More capers, artichoke, and maybe olives. As you can see I also used fresh Parmesan and enjoyed it with Horton Petite Mansing.


  •  8 oz. multigrain spaghetti 
  • 1 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 0.50 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 0.50 c. dry white wine

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot; then toss with 1/2 cup parsley and the lemon zest and juice.
  • Meanwhile, thinly slice the chicken crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side; transfer to a bowl.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining oil and chicken and cook for 1 minute. Turn the chicken, scatter the garlic, capers, and red pepper over the top and cook 1 minute more. Return the first batch of chicken to the skillet and toss to combine.Add the wine and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top, then toss with the pasta (adding some of the reserved pasta water if needed).
  • Thursday, April 2, 2015

    What IS Curry?

    A few years ago I lived next door to neighbors from the Middle East. I can't tell you how many hours I spent trying to devise a plan to incorporate myself into their daily dinner routine--their delicious, curry-spiced food delighted the neighborhood. delighted everyone except the habitually troublesome neighbors upstairs--they complained about the "suspicious smells" coming from the Middle Easter neighbors. I left a stack of McDonalds cheeseburgers at their door with a fan to remind them of the traditional flavors of 'Merica.

    Curry is prepared in a variety of ways either with or without a sauce, vegetarian or including poultry, fish, beef, or any other meet. While curry powder is largely a Western invention, the spices we find in most American Indian restaurants contain a combination of 3 staple spices: coriander, cumin, and turmeric.

    There is such a thing as a curry tree and you can include their leaves in any traditional curry. Curry leaves are a mild flavor and should be added at the end of the cooking process so as not to lose their flavor. Turmeric is a sunny yellow flavoring known for aiding rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

    You'll recognize cumin from your chili-prep stash. It is also a spice native to the Middle East and you'll find references to it in the Bible (along with what many people feel is oregano--referred to as "hyssop"). Cumin is a powerful antioxidant. Most spices are--that's why they are encouraged in diets from the Candida Diet to the Daniel Plan.

    The third seasoning, coriander. Coriander is cilantro seed. Cilantro is a plant that usually polarizes the population. People either love it or hate it. I personally LOVE cilantro--others feel it tastes like soap!

    Total Time: 0:25
    Prep: 0:20
    Level: Easy
    Yield: 4 servings (cost per serving of $1.76)
    Serves: 4



    • 1 c. long-grain white rice
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1.50 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 small onion
    • 3 clove garlic
    • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
    • 1 small apple
    • 0.25 c. golden raisins
    • 1 tbsp. curry powder
    • 1 c. light coconut milk
    • 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
    • Chopped cilantro


      Cook the rice according to package directions.

    1. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
    2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the apple and raisins, sprinkle with the curry powder and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.
    3. Stir in the coconut milk, then the broth and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and the apples and onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve over the rice and top with cilantro, if desired.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015

    Gluten Free Broccoli Rollups

    For a great alternative to a Hot Pocket, these broccoli and cheddar roll-ups are easy for travel, filling for lunch, and versatile for health benefits. Although it may be more convenient to pick up a roll of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, the benefits of preparing your own, gluten-free pizza dough.

    You can find the original version of this recipe on The Minimalist Baker website:

    • 3 cups gluten free flour blend (1 cup white rice flour + 1 cup brown rice flour + 1 cup tapioca flour + 3/4 tsp xanthan gum)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
    • 1 Tbsp yeast
    • 1 1/4 cup warm water, divided
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup lemon/lime soda
    • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
    • 1/4 cup fresh organic chopped oregano

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water - about 110 degrees. Too hot and it will kill the yeast! Let set for 5 minutes to activate. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.
    3. In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
    4. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water before stirring. Then stir it all together until well combined, using a wooden spoon (see photo).
    5. Lightly coat a baking sheet or pizza stone with non-stick spray and plop your dough down. Using your hands and a little brown rice flour if it gets too sticky, work from the middle and push to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge (see pictures). You want it to be pretty thin - less than 1/4 inch.
    6. Put the pizza in the oven to pre-bake for roughly 25-30 minutes, or until it begins to look dry. Cracks may appear, but that's normal and totally OK.


    • 6 oz. broccoli crowns, thinly sliced (about 2 1/4 cups)
    • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • Kosher salt
    • Pepper
    • 6 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated
    • Flour, for the work surface
    • 1 lb. pizza dough, thawed if frozen
    • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • Green salad, for serving


    1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, onion, parsley, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the cheese.
    3. On a lightly floured work surface, shape the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle, spread with the mustard and cut into 8 triangles. Divide the broccoli mixture among the triangles (about 1/3 cup per triangle). Starting at the wide end, roll dough around the filling.
    4. Transfer rollups to the prepared baking sheet, brush with the remaining tablespoon oil and bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Serve with a salad, if desired.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    An Interview with Wheat

    Wheat has 3 parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

    I've invited them all here today to tell you a little bit about their contributions. Introduce yourself guys.

    Bran: "I have the most fiber and became a diet fad in the 1980's."

    Germ: "I'm full of nutrients like iron and I'm responsible for sprouting the new wheat plant. I'm kind of an important guy."

    Endosperm (munching a bag of Cheetos): "I'm the largest part of the kernel and I'm mostly starch. (Clears throat, licks fingers and looks at Germ condiscendingly) I'm responsible for a little thing called white flour. You know--Sunbeam, Wonder, Pillsbury and Sara Lee anything--the best thing since 'white bread?'"

    Bran: "I think that's sliced bread..."

    Endosperm: "No one asked you, Bran. Moving along, I'm mass-produced, commercially processed, and practically void of any nutritional value unless you count sugar as a nutrient. I'm put through steam rollers and pampered with a chlorine bath (to perfect my starchy whiteness). Bleaching flour is an industry standard.

    Germ: "Of course the real reason that no one can eat any commercial bread is because it's bathed in insecticide before it's even processed."

    Endosperm: "Shhhhhh...then no one will even want to eat YOU guys."

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): "We define chlorine gas as a flour-bleaching and aging process that is a powerful irritant. Alloxan is a biproduct of bleaching. It intentionally causes diabetes in lab rats so researches can study cures. It's highly toxic."

    Endosperm: "No one invited you. You're not even a component of wheat."

    Dr. Harvey Wiley: "I'm dead now but in 1906 I was a consumer advocate and head of the Bureau of Chemistry which eventually turned into the FDA. I went to the Supreme Court trying to stop the bleaching of food because I was so convinced of it's dangers. A law was passed that wheat couldn't be altered but it wasn't enforced. Later on I resigned out of frustration when big food corporations like Pillsbury and advocates for big farming beat out any effort to keep poison out of our food."

    Endosperm: "Dead people can't talk."

    Bran: "Neither can food."

    Endosperm: "This is why no one likes you, Bran--you like getting things stirred up."

    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    The Top Five Aerosole Facts a Shoe Diva Should Know

    1. They let you host parties.

    This is a stellar idea, mostly because I thought of it years ago for local businesses, but never thought it could be a thing for a national business.

    My understanding is they bring you shoes, you drink wine and eat cookies and try them on, then they give you a percentage of your sales. If you own a salon, you get to give massages while you host. Who doesn't want to do this???

    The only catch is, you have to live within an hour of the store so if you don't live in a metropolitan area, you can go over to your friend's house and still have wine and cookies, but you'll have to settle for trying on her shoes.

    2. Old people shoes are so ugly, they're cute.

    I'll apologize beforehand for calling these shoes elderly but please look at the next picture:

    If you haven't seen an old person wearing this shoe, you're a liar. My Grandmother owns a pair and they were designated to the "old lady shoe" area of the shoe department when I worked for Macy's along with Naturalizers, Life Strides, Easy Spirits, Hush Puppies, and Grasshoppers

    That said, I kind of like them now. One, because I managed in the ladies shoe department at Macy's for six years in non-elderly shoes and two, I'm at that age where it feels ridiculous to wear junior shoes. It's very interesting how at age 30 or so you start to transition from the person who wore short skirts and pierced body parts to the woman who walks into the break room at work, observes an inappropriately dressed young lady, and says to herself,"I wonder if she realizes she looks like a hooker?" with absolutely no malice or jealousy--just concern that the young lady on her cell phone with the tattoo on her thigh realizes what she's done to completely disregard any success she may have in the future with her dyed green hair and ill-fitting clothing. 

    All of that sounds judgmental and it totally is but in a nice-but-sounds-mean-and-condescending way.

    To summarize, my feet hurt and I'm old.

    That said, Aerosoles can be so cute that they're ugly--the same kind of ugly that brought me joy in my teens as I found my mom's 1970's sandals fit and that guided me to bell bottoms made out of carpet in college. 

    Here are a few samples of my favorite ugly/cute Aerosole shoes. I like how the last example looks like someone was like,"Oh my god look at that fabulous fabric on a sofa from Goodwill! I must put it on my feet and add laces!" 

    I would wear every single pair of these as some acceptably unaware young person will think to herself,"Look at those ugly shoes on that slightly overweight, middle-aged person." And then I'll kick her in the face with my ugly shoe and run.

    3. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

    Here are some really attractive women my age explaining how Aerosoles are basically the NASA of footwear with their fancy stitch-and-turn with diamond sole design. If I were in a nursery rhyme and I lived in a shoe with a bunch of children, I would want it to be an Aerosole.

    4. If you lay around in bed long enough, you can figure out their coupon codes.

    I have a compulsion to figure out how to know things I shouldn't know. One of them involves coupon codes for any number of businesses. The last pair of shoes I bought just had to come down in price. There were no adequate coupons available so I noticed they have a VIP program that provided a 15% discount on your birthday. Having worked retail most of my life, I assumed a coupon code would be involved and I knew that the powers that be wouldn't spend a lot of time on making them creative. So after half an hour, I cracked the code. You would've thought I won the lottery. 

    5. They have a VIP program.

    As you may have noticed from reading number 4, Aerosoles has a rewards program. Every $150 you spend will earn you a $10 gift certificate. They also give you 15% off on your birthday or every month if you're a con artist like me. 

    Although I would never pay full price for anything, I watch the styles I want and buy them six months later when they are usually available. The best way to shop is to get a few friends on board and buy in bulk so you get free shipping and accrue the rewards points. Just explain to your friends that anything under $30 is not refundable for anything but a credit. I haven't found a better price for Aerosoles than on their website if you're looking for clearance. You can get shoes for as little as $16.99--that's better than their vendors including Macys, Sears, and JC Penney. But always check the department store web sites first! You can usually find their full price or moderately priced items for less.

    5 Things I Learned About Peppadew

    1. They were discovered when I started High School.

    This one time back in 1993, a rich guy was wandering around his enormous South African back yard and he saw a tall bush with some fruit on it. Considering it was impossible for anything bad to happen to him since he was rich and white, he bit into one of the ripe red fruits and--VOILA!--peppadew was born. The name originated from the fact they look like a pepper (mostly because they totally are) and the gentleman's affinity for Mountain Dew, which he discovered while traveling the exotic mountains of West Virginia. I made that up, in case you have no humor or common sense.

    2. Peppadews are patent.

    Afore mentioned white guy, Johah Steenkamp, trademarked his discovery shortly thereafter and patented his "secret preparation." That means you can secretly sell your stash along with your other crops.

    3. Peppadews are raised in New Jersey.

    But I wouldn't travel there to buy them because people from New Jersey are also raised there.

    4. You might find peppadew products in a grocery store near you.

    Yancey's Fancy Artisan Cheese partnered with the producers of the peppadew brand to make several varieties of cheese. You can find their selections at your local Kroger. Spring Silver makes peppadew mustard, and Robert Rothschild makes peppadew cocktail sauce which you can usually find at your local specialty foods store. Wegmans's sells the direct brand of peppadews and salsa. 

    5. Peppadew shows at the Annual International Las Vegas Pizza Expo.

    I can't think of a better way to eat pizza,drink beer and hang out with managers from pizza fast food chains all over the United States. I could make some very derogatory remarks about the guy who ran the pizza place I used to work at but then I'd have to admit I worked there.

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Kit and Kaboodle: The Top DIY Gifts for Your Man

    Do guys really want an expensive shaving kit? Is he really that concerned with the shine of the dress shoes he only wears twice a year?

    Some kits are the pits, some are pretty super, and you may or may not have known they existed. Here are my top picks for kits:

    Homemade Debauchee Kit

    While the tools in this kit can be used in making wine and beer, if you've already perfected the art of an exact blend of  grapes and just the right hop combo for your brew, it's time to move on to another subdivision of drunkenness and beverage/food pairing. Strike up the grill this spring and serve a little saki with your stir-fry. Your friends will be impressed that you've learned a new skill and on birthdays and holidays you can pair it with a saki set for a unique, gift presentation.

    (Sake Making Kit, Scountmob, $57)

    Asian Gift Package

    The Paranoid Prepper 

    We all have those individuals in our lives that stick around to remind us of all the bad things that could possibly happen. The pessimists, the hypochondriac, the practical naysayers all do us a favor and yank our fluffy little heads right out of the clouds in order to lend us a hard dose of reality: bad things happen--often and in large quantities.

    That's why the gift of preparation is so much better than a rash-causing sweater that reminds him of his weight gain or a gadget that, studies show, trigger premature balding and probably cancer.

    Just add water! If you can still find water in the inevitable Apocalypse (courtesy of The Ready Store).

    The Pyromaniac

    Red Dragon torches are advertised as an environmentally healthy alternative to using pesticides in your garden.

    What they don't advertise is how great a Red Dragon Kit can be when you want to see stuff explode. Some of their satisfied customers include Boeing and The City of New York. Can you say "conspiracy theory?" 

    The Tech Guy

    I'm not even sure what happens with this but I feel like it has something to do with building robots or being the Antichrist. If you pair it with the prior two gift guys, I think what you might have is a little roll playing game I like to call "Compound." Buy yours at the local Radio Shack before they go the way of the Blockbuster.

    The Tree Man

    I dated a Tree Man once. You can easily identify them as they always look kind of dirty, they always have some sort of hard labor job, and they take pride in loving the simpler things in life like shooting wildlife, drinking beer, and proving every aspect of their masculinity to everyone, all the time, every day while retaining the "good heart" that doesn't allow you to run screaming from the latest carcass they've dragged home (literally and figuratively).

    These types of men love wood burning kits. You can search "wood burning" on Pinterest and observe any number of impressive projects. Your man will not provide one of these for added income but--if you're lucky--he won't burn anything into his own skin and he might present one of these on Valentine's Day. 

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Tomatillo Chili

    Out of all the culinary items I've discovered throughout my Woman's Day cooking journey, those that stand out the most are capers and smoked paprika. In short, capers are a marvelous little flower ball thingy found near the olives in the pickle aisle and are most def in the pickle/olive/artichoke flavor range and smoked paprika is not at all like regular 'ol shake-this-ruddy-flavorless-color-on-my-deviled-eggs paprika. It's smokey--hence the name.

    This is my fourth year cooking from Woman's Day recipes and I'm all biggety about knowing how to cook but still I come across items and I'm all like,"What is that and where do I get it?"

    This time I was trying to make my New Year's Day Vegetarian Chili and the recipe called for tomatillos. In my mind, what that meant was either some sort of vegetable in a can or some sort of tamale in a can. I searched the aisles of the ethnic cuisine at Kroger to no avail. What I did find was this:

    All I saw was the word "tomatillo" and that's all I needed. I was tired of looking.

    Of course, in reality a tomatillo is a vegetable that I could've found in the produce section, it obviously resembles a tomato, and had I read the recipe I might have realized that. But isn't this way more fun?

    I dumped the entire 12 oz jar of sauce in my chili. I also added cilantro and 2 squares of Lindt chili dark chocolate. It was delicious.

    Chili is the ultimate January meal in my opinion. Every year, my church used to host a special speaker and celebrate the new year with a chili cook-off. I obviously won on at least one occasion and gained possession of the coveted Chili Pepper Wreath for the year. 

    In 2012, I also hosted a chili cook-off for small businesses to raise money for the winner's charity of choice. Our local bison farm earned the most votes and all the contestants took home hot sauce. Our runner up enjoyed a "chili" cake made by a local cake artist.

    (Our Chili Cake...or IS it??)

    Chili is really a community experience. I imagine my friends and I, out on the farm for a hearty cowgirl night, sipping cold fresh milk with spicy bowls of chili--all from our own secret recipes. There would be sides of cilantro, brown sugar, sour cream, and cheddar cheese with a selection of oyster crackers or rosemary bread. We'd all have our own special bowls and sit around the campfire. Maybe someone would bring a guitar and at the end of the night we'd smell smokey just like a ranch hand.

    These chili pots are hand crafted by David Norton out of Round Hill, Virginia. I want the blue one for myself and I'd love to attach a recipe to each of the other three and give them to friends with a promise to host a Cowboy Campfire.

    I'd place a tomatillo in each one. 

    U.S.Metricconversion chart
    • 3 tablespoon(s) olive oil
    • 1 cup(s) diced onion
    • 2 tablespoon(s) minced garlic
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
    • 1 cup(s) thinly sliced carrots
    • 1/4 cup(s) chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon(s) ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground red pepper (cayenne)
    • 8 ounce(s) (1 1/2 cups) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in big chunks
    • 1 medium (1 1/2 cups) zucchini,  halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
    • 2 can(s) (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 can(s) (28 ounces) tomatoes in purée, tomatoes coarsely chopped (see Note), undrained
    • 1/2 cup(s) chicken or vegetable broth, or water
    1. Heat oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until onion starts to soften. Add red and green bell peppers and carrots and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until carrots
    2. Add chili powder, ground cumin, salt and ground red pepper and cook and stir 1 minute.
    3. Add tomatillos and zucchini and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatillos start to soften.
    4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
    5. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until sauce has thickened and vegetables are tender.
    tips & techniques
    Note: To chop canned tomatoes, snip them directly in the can with kitchen scissors.